The striking junior doctors defied West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s ultimatum on Thursday and decided to continue their protest till she withdrew her statement in which she saw a communal and political agenda behind the agitation and till their demand for adequate security in Government hospitals are met.
Emergency wards, outdoor facilities, pathological units of many State-run medical colleges and hospitals and a number of private medical facilities in the state remained closed for the third day due to the strike by the doctors who are protesting after two of their colleagues were attacked and seriously injured at the NRS Medical College and Hospital here by a mob following the death of a patient.
While visiting the SSKM Hospital on Thursday morning, Mamata directed the doctors to resume work within four hours or face consequence attracting protest slogans from the agitating doctors. By the evening the medics decided to carry on the agitation.
The doctors’ strike has taken a pan-Indian proportion with Indian Medical Association calling for a “cease work” nationally. The doctors of All India Institute of Medical Sciences too would strike work as mark of solidarity on Friday.
The large group of junior doctors who got moral support from their seniors and the pan-Indian doctors’ associations as well as world forum of doctors, demanded an apology from Mamata for her statements.
Meanwhile, Professor Saibal Kumar Mukherjee and Professor Saurabh Chattopadhyay resigned as the Principal and Medical Superintendent/vice principal, respectively, of NRS Medical College and Hospital where the junior doctors were brutally assaulted by hooligans after the death of a patient.
At least 18 senior doctors working in various medical colleges, including Sagar Dutta Medical College, tendered their resignation in protest against the Government’s “insensitive handling of a delicate and sensitive issue.”
While the Chief Minister accused some doctors of enquiring the patients’ religious background before giving them treatment, the medics denied the charges saying it was “not clinically possible to ask such questions during the duty hours without being challenged.”
Calling upon the doctors, Mamata said “on the first day, things were not political, later on it was given political and communal colours as a politician said the Muslim doctors beat up the Hindu doctors when it was just another case of hooliganism.”
The Monday’s attack on the doctors was so grievous that two of them had to be shifted to ICU at Institute of Neurology with severe brain injury. “One of them sustained serious injury as his frontal skull bone had pierced the brain following an attack supposedly with some heavy substance.”
More attacks followed on Thursday both at NRS Medical College and Burdwan Medical College with alleged TMC supporters assaulting the striking doctors with bricks and bottles.
“Two of them have been hospitalised with severe eye and head injuries,” their colleagues said in Kolkata adding they would not resume work “until the Chief Minister personally comes and inspects the infrastructure and gives us assurance that similar situation will not arise in future.”
Dr SB Banerjee from Asia’s oldest Medical College and Hospital said, “The attack was brutal but the doctors will should keep their services keeping in view the lakhs of patients they have to handle every day.”
Dr Purna Saha said, “The Government does not give us apparatus to treat the patients still we do our level best. But despite utmost care if a patient succumbs to one’s injury then we are attacked by the hooligans. We have also been asking for police protection for years but in lieu we have received only assurances. This cannot go on for eternity.”
Reminding the doctors of a Supreme Court order, the Chief Minister said “doctors cannot strike. In some other States the striking interns were punished by extension of their internship period.”
Incidentally senior BJP leader Mukul Roy on Wednesday had accused the Government and the police of complacency alleging “despite the brutal attack on the doctors the police have failed to take any meaningful action because the attackers belong to a particular community.”
Friday, 14 June 2019 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata
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